Vallis Alps At The Echoplex, Friday September 8th 2017
If you have never heard of the duo Vallis Alps, you may feel like me, totally out of touch: Their song ‘Fading’ got almost 13 million plays on Spotify and their other track ‘Young’ almost 20 million! For a duo who has only released 2 EPs – so 8 tracks in total, plus a new song, ‘Oceans’ recently released – this is certainly not something to ignore. On Friday night, I caught one of their September dates at the Echoplex.
The electronic duo Vallis Alps is based in Sydney and consists of Canberra vocalist Parissa Tosif and Seattle producer David Ansari and although their sound is as aerial as the light dancing above the ocean, they had brought a heavy metallic table on stage to accommodate all their electronic equipment. David Ansari stayed most of the time behind it, while Parissa Tosif, as light as her music, was gracefully moving and dancing around the stage and occasionally adding beats to David’s owns.
Her voice may be one of the most remarkable elements of their music, Parissa’s vocals are very pretty, aerial and high-pitched with a warm touch of melancholy, contrasting a bit with the general upbeat vibe of their tunes. The Echoplex seemed packed with a young crowd vibrating at each one of her elegant moves and honeyed vocal prowess, while everyone was often singing and dancing along. The music was in a constant dreamy stage, shining like a ray of sunshine through the clouds, blending 80s pop synth with trip hop, while Parissa’s R&B-tainted vocals, sometimes reminiscent of a young Dido, were leading the whimsical dance. They opened with ‘East’, a song with layered ethereal vocal effects, combining dynamic and powerful electronic beats with a key-driven melody, and receiving a cheerful approval from the crowd.
Full of energy, Parissa Tosif told us how excited they were to be playing in Los Angeles, adding that this show was their second one at this place – although they were playing upstairs at the smaller Echo, last time – before singing the eerie and bouncy ‘Oh’ with a rare acoustic guitar in the mix. There was even more sing-along during ‘Thru’ and its series of mysterious sounds, wide-eyed atmosphere, and a propelling-the-sound-to-the-roof-like-Flume moment.
They did a ‘brand new one, which doesn’t have a name yet’, and the pretty and catchy song let Parissa’s pure voice shine over an ambiance of muted beats and bright bell-like sounds, while her dreamy vocals seemed to try to catch up with the tempo during the percussive ‘Run’. The slowly sprawling ‘Reprieve’ had more electro-beats than on the recording version and was bringing a sort of balladery style and a unique mish-mash of soundscapes dominated by piano notes.
When Parissa mentioned the new song ‘Oceans’, the crowd couldn’t contain its enthusiasm ‘Actually we will perform it later’, she said, putting the audience in a delicious expecting mood, during another delicate and disorienting soundscape called ‘Serity’, once again led by her great vocals. She invited us to sing with her during, ‘Young’, but she didn’t need to, as everyone was taken away by the song’s ethereal sound. They finally did ‘Oceans’, which was just released on September 1st, an original tune which seemed to combine electronic Trinidad steelpan and heavy beats, and they closed their set with ‘Fading’ and an echoing ‘This is paradise’ sung at unison by the room.
It’s just remarkable that the Vallis Alps duo was able to build such a strong follow up with such a limited amount of songs. If their short-titled tracks were often soothing and generally uplifting, there was a real nostalgia in their lush sonic textures, combining aerial soundscapes and a dynamism strongly impregnated by hip hop and some restrained EDM-like moments. Everyone was smoothly dancing all-set long, but, at this point, I was wondering whether it was more meditative music than real dance music.
Brand new song